Capitals Fall To Sabres, 4-3 In Shootout; Connor McMichael Makes NHL Debut

Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals fell to the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 (SO) Sunday afternoon at Capital One Arena. The loss drops the Capitals record to 3-0-3 (9 points) on the season. The Capitals will return to the ice on Tuesday when they host Barry Trotz and the Islanders at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:07 PM.

Vitek Vanecek (2-0-1, 2.90 GAA, .898 save percentage) started in goal for the Capitals. Linus Ullmark (0-1-1, 2.44 GAA, .906 save percentage) got start between the pipes for the visiting Sabres. The Capitals starting forward lines and defensive pairs:

Tom Wilson was out with a lower body injury and remains listed as day-to-day. Wilson sustained the injury in the third period against Buffalo on Friday night.

Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Vitek Vanecek were placed on the COVID-19-related absences list on Wednesday, January 20, and will miss a minimum of seven-days (4 games). This was the second game missed by the four players.

Trevor van Riemsdyk made his first start for the Capitals. As a result, Nick Jensen was a healthy scratch.

Connor McMichael made his NHL debut.

The Capitals opened the scoring with a shot from the point by Justin Schultz (1), his first goal as a Capital.

The first period would conclude with the Capitals holding on to a 1-0 lead.

The Sabres led in shot attempts 23-15 and shots on goal 16-8 for the first frame. However, most of the Sabres shot attempts were from the perimeter (see heat map).Β  The Capitals led in high-danger shots 3-1 for the period. Buffalo was 0 for 1 on the power play. The Capitals did not get a man advantage in the first 20 minutes.

The Sabres would tie the game with a power play goal from Collin Miller (1) at 10:07 of the middle frame.

The Capitals would regain their lead just 1:44 later with a power play goal from TJ Oshie at 11:51 of the middle frame. Justin Schultz (1) and Nicklas Backstrom (3) had the helpers.

But the Sabres would answer right back with another power play goal, this time by Victor Olofsson (3) at 13:04 of the second period.

And that’s how the middle frame would end, with the teams tied 2-2. The Sabres led in shot attempts 13-8 and 36-23 after two periods. Buffalo was 2 for 4 and the Capitals 1 for 2 on the power play after two periods.

The Sabres would grab their first lead of the game with a power play goal, their third of the game, by Eric Staal at 7:24 of the final frame.

But the Capitals would answer once again with a power play goal of their own. Nicklas Backstrom (4) somehow found the twine from a sharp angle at 9:28 of the final frame, tying the score, 3-3.

The Sabres Taylor Hall would be awarded a penalty shot on a breakaway midway through the period. His penalty shot would ring off the post, much to the appreciation of Vitek Vanecek.

Regulation would expire with the game tied 3-3.

The overtime would go scoreless, send the game to the shootout.

Capitals: John Carlson: No good
Sabres: Jack Eichel: Good
Capitals: TJ OShie: No good
Sabres: Casey Mittelstadt: No Good
Capitals: Nicklas Backstrom: No good

Sabres win.

The Capitals are back in action Tuesday night when they host the New York Islanders at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m.


  • Vitek Vanecek stopped 45 of 48 total shots faced for .938 game save percentage, stopped 32 of 32 shots at even strength, and stopped 13 of 13 high danger chances. (He stopped 7 of 7 high danger chances in his fist game as well).
  • β€˜The Sabres were 3 for 5 and the Capitals 2 for 3 on the power play.
  • β€˜The Sabres led in shot attempts 50-39.
  • β€˜The Sabres led in shots on goal 48-31.
  • Sabres won the faceoff battle 51-49%.
  • Capitals led in hits 16-11.
  • Connor McMichael had 9:54 of ice time.


  • Nicklas Backstrom is playing in his 962nd game, passing Peter Bondra for the third most games in franchise history.
  • T.J. Oshie deflects a shot from Justin Schultz to give the Caps a 2-1 lead with a power play goal. Since joining Washington in 2015-16, that’s Oshie’s 130th goal, the second-most on the Caps during that span (Alex Ovechkin: 232).
  • Connor McMichael made his NHL debut.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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2 Responses to Capitals Fall To Sabres, 4-3 In Shootout; Connor McMichael Makes NHL Debut

  1. Jon Sorensen says:
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